Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hacker nerd is listening to your phone calls

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Unless you're in Vegas and talking on your cell phone this weekend near the DefCon hacker conference. In this case, cell phone hacker Chris Paget could use his device, the IMSI catcher, to listen in while you're relaying your dirty hooker story to your buddy back home.

While Paget is among the pale army hell bent on "exposing security invulnerabilities" for the betterment of society and/or complete world domination, he simply wants to show that GSM is broken in this case. GSM is, for lack of a better term, 2G; which is just means "2nd generation" of cellular technology. 3G is the third. If 4G requires an explanation, please simply surf away from this page.

If you use a 3G enabled device and make your phone calls over a 3G connection, you're not vulnerable to this sort of mobile privacy raping. But if your carrier is known for inconsistent 3G coverage and requires your GSM phone to revert to 2G, your phone calls could wind up being YouTube fodder faster than the latest Mel Gibson outburst (though we challenge you to make it nearly as entertaining).

Paget's device cost him a mere $1,500 to create. While this may seem like hefty amount, I advise you to never underestimate the buying power and determination of hacker nerds. If they want to live vicariously through your non-3G protected phone calls, they'll do it. It's cheaper than those late night 976 numbers and it doesn't show up on their mom's phone bills. And if they manage to snag your credit card number while listening to you order a pizza, even better.

Bottom line, this is a good hack. None of the phone carriers want to talk about this at the moment because it simply makes the technology in their phones look bad. Which phone are effected? Any phone that uses GSM. Which phones use GSM? Just about ALL phones on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks (yes....even the iPhone). You can safe guard yourself by making sure that you're using your 3G network when on a call. If you notice that you're on EDGE or something other than 3G, just be mindful that there may be a fatty with a neck beard on the other end listening to your every word.

Click here to read the unmolested story from The Washington Post.